9:09 am This mid-season soap could best be described as Melrose Place if everyone in the complex shared a $400 million lottery jackpot.
9:10 Hey, why aren’t cast members Luke Perry and Sarah Wynter (24) included in today’s panel? Did NBC Shannen Doherty their butts?
9:14 A reporter remarks that this is the “most attractive group of lottery winners I’ve ever seen.” He’s right — there’s not a Hurley in the bunch.
9:18 Exec producer Laurie McCarthy explains that Luke Perry had a family obligation, and Sarah Wynter is on holiday in her native Australia.
9:30 Jason Gedrick (Boomtown) burns his Backdraft costars, Kurt Russell and Scott Glenn, by bringing up the time they went on Oprah and groused about the dangers of filming fire sequences. “Yeah, we were surrounded by paramedics,” Gedrick scoffs. “We had these flame-thrower guys who could fire 100 yards away and hit a dime. We were never in any danger.”
10:50 It’s simply, um, inconceivable to me why NBC would greenlight this sappy piece of donkey dung, which could best be described as Melrose Place if everyone in the complex worked at a fertility clinic and enjoyed group hugs.
10:51 The cast is introduced and… Yikes! Ming-Na (ER) has really let herself go.
10:51:30 Oh, wait — she’s pregnant. My bad. (That joke never gets old. Seriously.)
10:53 Instead of waiting for someone to ask the question, exec producer Oliver Goldstick launches into a treatise on how the idea for Inconceivable was born.
10:58 Goldstick wraps up his treatise on how the idea for Inconceivable was born. (Here’s the Cliffs Notes version: Both he and fellow exec producer Marco Pennette had children via surrogacy.)
11:04 Angie Harmon, who was a late addition to the cast, admits that she had no intention of returning to the weekly series grind she left behind at Law & Order five years ago — until she watched the Inconceivable pilot. “I was completely moved,” says the mother of two. “I laughed, I cried, I…. ” apparently saw a different pilot than the rest of us.
11:07 Scoop! Producers confirm that Ming-Na’s pregnancy will be written into the show.
11:10 Is it wrong that I chuckle every time leading man, Brit thesp Jonathan Cake, pronounces issues “e-sues”? Is it?
Law & Order: Brand
11:31 My girl Mariska Hargitay of SVU is joined by “brand” creator Dick Wolf, Criminal Intent’s Vincent D’Onofrio and the mother ship’s newest ADA, Annie Parisse.
11:32 Wolf opens the session with a “brief statement” — at least brief by Marta Kauffman standards (see Day 4: WB for more on that) — in which he confirms what Peacock president Kevin Reilly told us here on Sunday: The remains of Trial by Jury will be cobbled together to form a new weekly drama set in the world of ADAs. Says Wolf: “It will have a different focus and be much more character-driven than straight procedural.”
11:41 When a reporter suggests that Law & Order represents “safe” television, Wolf’s eyes turn red, smoke starts billowing out of his ears and his head swivels in, to borrow a phrase from Reilly, a very wide turning radius. And just when we think the worst is behind us, the projectile vomiting kicks in. “I want to get this off my chest,” he growls. Uh-oh. I think we’re gonna get yelled at by big, bad Wolf.
11:41:30 “[When Criminal Intent debuted five years ago,] all the heat was on Alias, and we had to fight to get anything in the press,” he begins. “If you guys had been paying attention, I firmly believe [Vincent D’Onofrio] would have gotten an Emmy nomination.”
11:41:45 “You guys don’t report the financial aspects of how successful the brand is.”
11:42 “[Mariska Hargitay] has received two consecutive Emmy nominations, [but] I didn’t see that much fuss made about it.” OK, now hold it right there, buddy…
11:46 D’Onofrio is asked what his new, lighter workload means for him creatively. (In case you haven’t heard, the “overworked” actor will be splitting his detective duties with Chris Noth this season.) “Number one, it means for the first time… I will actually be able to sit with a script in my lap for 10 days before we shoot it,” he says. “Secondly, I’ll have a life.” Gee, I hope the poor guy didn’t deplete his meager energy stash answering that question.
11:48 Hey, if Vincent can land himself such a sweet deal, why not Mariska? I mean, she’s been doing basically the same job as he does, but for six years, not five. “I’m not going to lie — I’m very jealous,” she admits. “I miss having a life, but I manage.” If I’m not mistaken, I think that’s what we call a pro.
11:53 Wolf apparently isn’t done scolding us. “What makes me angry is the lack of sophisticated business reportage,” he says. “If you saw the columns of articles last fall [about] how badly the [L&O] shows have been hurt by CSI: NY and Desperate Housewives… Yeah, we may get kicked around a little bit, but this is still the most profitable brand in the history of the medium!” I think someone needs to simmah down now!
11:54 Wolf concludes his grump session by saying, “I’m not pissed off. I’m a very happy guy.” You? Pissed off? Pshaw.
11:56 And now today's "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" award for the question better directed to an NBC publicist via e-mail than to Dick Wolf in the middle of a press conference goes to the reporter who essentially pitched Mr. Law & Order a cover story for a magazine called L.A. Confidential. “What reportage would you like to have happen?” she asks the exec. “I had an opportunity to write about Mariska, and I contacted [her] publicist, Gary, and they said they wanted a cover story. I went back to L.A. Confidential, asked them, and they were interested… And that’s why I’m here.” At that point, the crowd starts booing her, and, well, let’s just say congratulations to today’s winner and leave it at that.
11:59 A reporter asks Mariska the requisite pregnancy question, to which she replies, “Oh, just read the local rags.” Hey, I thought I was getting the exclusive.
Access Hollywood 10th Anniversary Lunch
12:15 – 2 pm I had to skip out on this, but I hear executive producer Rob Silverstein basically spent an hour trashing Entertainment Tonight for, among other things, airing that Mary Kay Letourneau wedding. Yeah, Mary Hart’s gams really jumped the shark with that one.
Thick and Thin
2:02 This Lorne Michaels-produced mid-season entry could best be described as Melrose Place if it were a sitcom and everyone in the complex belonged to Weight Watchers and spent all day cracking bad fat jokes.
2:06 The cast, including Sharon Gless, Martin Mull and Saturday Night Live’s Chris Parnell, is brought out on stage. OK, now this is what a group of lottery winners would look like.
2:10 Nearly 10 minutes in, and no one has asked Michaels a single question.
2:14 Still no questions for Michaels.
2:18 Only two minutes to go, people! At least ask him if Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are returning to SNL's Weekend Update desk this season.
2:21 The session ends, and Michaels did not say two words. I hope he didn’t fly out from New York just for this.
2:48 This reality show could best be described as Melrose Place if… um… er… Amy Grant moved in and encouraged everyone in the complex to travel with her to communities all over the country to grant wishes. Yeah, that’s it.
2:49 The session begins, and there’s silence, prompting host Grant to say, “Crickets.” Hey, that’s my joke!
3:07 The producers reveal that they don’t randomly select which towns they travel to. Rather, they make sure one member of the community has a good sob story — aka an “anchor wish” — before rolling in.
3:15 What does Grant wish for? “What I wish is impossible,” she says. “I wish that I could do the job that I love and be with my family. That’s what I wish.” Poor Amy. She should talk to Vincent D’Onofrio about how he scored that sweetheart deal of his.
3:38-4:04 What happens when you stick four actors (Seth Green, Shane McRae, Josh Cooke and Todd Grinnell) who think they’re comedians on a stage and give them 30 minutes to promote their new mid-season buddy comedy? The very real potential for mass suicide.
4:05 Executive producer Max Mutchnick (Will & Grace) admits “it’s really great when you do a sitcom where hair isn’t an issue.” Was that a slam against Debra Messing? I think it might have been.
NBC All-Star Party
7:57 Scoop! It’s the news American Dreams fans have been dying to hear: The alternate ending series creator Jonathan Prince shot but never aired will finally see the light of day this summer, per NBC chief Jeff Zucker. “Thank you for reminding me about that,” Zucker tells me. “I’m going to make some phone calls about that tomorrow. It’s gonna happen.”
Between the Spike movie and this, apparently, I have to do everything in this town.
Coming up tomorrow: ABC Day 1
Check out the rest of Michael Ausiello's press tour diary entries: Day 1 (CBS) - Day 2 (CBS) - Day 3 (UPN) - Day 4 (WB) -Day 5 (NBC) - Day 6 (NBC) - Day 7 (ABC) - Day 8 (ABC)
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